Chloe Kohl, Colorado State fourth year, walks up in a frantic to a coffee shop on campus in ripped jeans and an oversized t-shirt. She’s moving in a frantic and puts her belongings on the table in front of us. “Sorry, I’m late,” she stumbles out of her mouth. Kohl, 24, and full-time working, single mother of a young boy is a student on campus who has been facing food insecurity since the COVID-19 pandemic. She sat down to talk with me about her experiences on hunger and being a non-traditional college student. As someone utilizing Colorado State and Fort Collins food resources, she explained her experiences and what has helped her through fighting food insecurity.
Q: How has your experience been throughout college with food insecurity?
A: As a non traditional college student, I have a lot on my plate financially. I am a single mother and I pay for my own rent as well as tuition. When you start to add school supplies and transportation costs on top of that…thing’s get pretty pricey. I know my first priority is to feed my son, so when costs are running low, I sometimes have had to cut my own diet a little bit. I have gone through some good and some bad times depending on the circumstances
Q: You said you’ve been through some difficult times depending on the circumstances. How has the pandemic affected your access to food?
A: The pandemic has taken a very hard hit on my finances. I lost my full time job due to cuts. I used to work at a restaurant, but when the pandemic worsened they let a lot of people go. It has been really hard for me to support myself only on unemployment and not getting the steady income that I used to receive. Usually my own health is the first to go, because I know I need to pay my tuition because this work will pay off one day.
Q: Have you been able to have any income?
A: I have found a new job, but the income is not as good as my last job, which has impacted my living significantly.
Q: When things are bad, what do you eat?
A: I eat a lot of cheap and unhealthy foods. Anything I can afford really.
Q: Have you noticed any impacts from an unhealthy diet?
A: I can’t focus on school, because I am not getting enough nutrients and I notice it also affects my mood. I am different around my son. My grades and my personal relationships begin to suffer when I am not eating healthy or enough food for an extended period of time.
Q: Do you feel your university has assisted you in this time?
A: I do feel very supported by this community. Even though times are very difficult, I know I will never have no option. The resources the university has provided has really made all the difference for me. I have a hard time accepting help, and in the past was wary to use university resources, but now am very grateful that I have.
Q: What resources have helped you?
A: The pocket pantries have been a huge assistance to me for non perishable foods and snacks. Ram Ride’s program for meal delivery has also been very helpful. I also have a number of meal swipes available through the school, which has allowed me to access meals on campus. I am extremely grateful for these programs, they have made the difference between hunger and health this semester.
Q: Are there any other resources that have helped you?
Fort Collins is a very supportive community. Not only have I received help from classmates or friends, but also from restaurants such as the FoCo Cafe that offers free food to our community. Food insecurity is a real problem, and I am grateful for the fact that our university and city are taking steps to address it.
Links for resources for Food Insecurity in Fort Collins